Alligator wrestling documentary joins the 5th annual Lumbee Film Festival Lineup


Alligator wrestling documentary, Tough Skin, joins the 5th annual Lumbee Film Festival Lineup


Pembroke, NC- The 5th annual Lumbee Film Festival returns to Pembroke, North Carolina with 13 original films directed by Indigenous filmmakers. This year’s festival spans over 3 days during the 2023 Lumbee Homecoming, July 6-8, 2023.


“Indigenous cinema is on the rise and we’re excited to create a space to celebrate the rich creativity and diversity of Native films,” said Chad Locklear, Lumbee Film Festival communications director. “Lumbee Homecoming is always an exciting time to get together and reunite with friends and family. We hope attendees will take a break from the heat and join us in this celebration. It’ll be a fun and educational experience for all ages.”


The 5th annual Lumbee Film Festival kicks off with an original shorts block on Thursday, July 6 at 7:30pm on the campus of University of North Carolina at Pembroke.  The opening night shorts block features a range of films, including documentaries, poetry, animation and the narrative drama Can Archaeology Repair its Past with Indigenous America?, directed by award-winning filmmaker and Lumbee tribe member, Victoria Sutton. A discussion with all attending filmmakers will follow the screening.


Documentary short Mary Two Axe-Earley: I am Indian Again screens Friday night at 7:30pm, followed by Justin Deegan’s documentary feature Faces from the Interior. In Mary Two Axe- Earley: I am Indian Again, Kahnawake-based filmmaker Courtney Montour highlights a legendary woman who led the fight to restore Indian status to thousands of First Nations women and children. In the evening’s full-length feature, Faces From the Interior: The Director’s Cut, Justin Deegan explores the impact of artist Karl Bodmer on the direct descendants of the Mandan, Hidatsa and  Arikara Nations. In a director’s statement, Deegan said that he is “all about that indigenous lens for an indigenous narrative.”

The festival closes on Saturday, July 8 at 7:30pm with a screening of the highly-anticipated alligator wrestling documentary, Tough Skin, directed by Lumbee Film Festival alum, Montana Cypress. Cypress gives us a look into the perilous world of alligator wrestling through the eyes of Florida’s Indian tribes. From a culture-based practice,  to the commercially viable world of gator wrestling championships, we discover the innovative paths the tribes have embraced to sustain their sovereignty in an ever-evolving world. Cypress will also be in attendance for Q & A following the screening.


The announcement for Lumbee Film Festival’s official lineup comes at an exciting time, coinciding with the production wrap of Cypress and Malinda Maynor Lowery’s 30 minute narrative film, LUMBEELAND,  which was filmed in Pembroke, NC. The family drama, made in collaboration with Honeyhead Films, was inspired by Lowery’s own relationship with Robeson County as a Lumbee tribe member.


The Lumbee Film Festival is a partnership between the Lumbee Tribe of NC and the Cucalorus Film Foundation, and is sponsored by the North Carolina Arts Council, North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources and PBS North Carolina.


Lumbee Film Festival screenings are free and open to the public, taking place in James A. Thomas Hall on the campus of the University of North Carolina Pembroke.

For the full festival schedule, visit